It is clear that there are quite a few opinions concerning Article III of the SBC constitution. It spells out messenger qualifications and the Executive Committee has set forth some proposals for altering it. These have raised quite a few discussions here at SBC Voices and elsewhere. Links to our related articles are at the bottom of this post.
In an article in Baptist Press Tuesday, we have evidence that the the Executive Committee wants to hear what average Baptists have to say about these changes. Actually, they are always willing to hear our input, if we bother to give it. But on this issue they are raising their responsiveness to a new level.
In that article, Ernest Easley answers many of the questions people have had about the proposed changes and gives some of the thinking behind the proposal. It is worth the read.
Seeking Our Opinions
But the EC is also soliciting our opinions on the matter. I made a joke during the discussions that I was confident Dr. Page read every word and every comment published here. That was a joke. I’m sure our leaders sometimes peruse blogs, but they are too busy to spend their days sifting through lengthy comment streams to figure out our opinions.
But they are willing to listen. If you have an opinion about Article III, you can email it to email@example.com and it will be registered. Do it! Let the EC know what you think. Write reasonable, well-argued, but preferably brief statements of opinion on the issues.
Article III Proposal
Here is the text of the proposed Article III being considered by the EC.
Article III. Composition: The Convention shall consist of messengers who are members of Baptist churches in cooperation with the Convention at levels which the Convention, from time to time, determines. The following subparagraphs describe the Convention’s current standards and method of determining the maximum number of messengers the Convention will recognize from each cooperating church to attend the Convention’s annual meeting.
1. The Convention will only deem a church to be in friendly cooperation with the Convention, and sympathetic with its purposes and work (i.e., a “cooperating” church as that descriptive term is used in the Convention’s governing documents) which:
(1) Has not intentionally operated in any manner demonstrating opposition to the doctrine expressed in the Convention’s most recently adopted statement of faith. (By way of example, churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior would be deemed not to be in cooperation with the Convention.)
(2) Has formally approved its intention to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention. (By way of example, the regular filing of the annual report requested by the Convention would be one indication of such cooperation.)
(3) Has made undesignated, financial contribution(s) through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity during the fiscal year preceding.
2. Under the terms above, the Convention will recognize to participate in its annual meeting two (2) messengers from each cooperating church, and such additional messengers as are permitted below.
3. The Convention will recognize one (1) additional messenger from each cooperating church for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts or for each six thousand dollars ($6,000), whichever is less, which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity.
4. The messengers shall be appointed and certified by their church to the Convention, but the Convention will not recognize more than twelve (12) from any cooperating church.
5. Each messenger shall be a member of the church by which he or she is appointed.
6. If a church experiences a natural disaster or calamitous event and, as a result, the church is not qualified to appoint as many messengers as the church could appoint for the Convention’s annual meeting immediately before the event, the church’s pastor or an authorized church representative may, for no more than the three (3) annual meetings after the event, certify the facts to the registration secretary and obtain the same number of messengers it could have certified for the Convention’s annual meeting immediately before the event.
You are welcome to express your opinions here, but why not tell the good folks at the EC what you think? Remember, it is firstname.lastname@example.org to voice your opinion.
Links to Previous Articles
Proposed SBC Messenger Formula: Not Very Small Church Friendly? (by William Thornton)
Thoughts About Article III (by Bart Barber)
Is the SBC Positioning to Be Able to Oust Half Of Its Churches? (by Alan Cross)
The BF&M Communion Issue: There Is Only 1 Solution (by Dave Miller)